Barbara Kay: May Corbyn end up where he belongs — in the dustbin of history

British Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn campaigns in Bolton, England, on Dec. 10, 2019.

Just a few days before the U.K. election, Boris Johnson’s poll numbers are thankfully stabilizing at a 10-point lead. The word “thankfully” has nothing to do with my opinion on Johnson or Brexit, everything to do with revulsion for Jeremy Corbyn, a politician with a Jewish problem so entrenched that he couldn’t bring himself, when asked (thrice) on national television, to condemn as anti-Semitic the statement, “Rothschild Zionists run world governments.”

Long considered the natural political home for Britain’s liberal Jews, today 93 per cent of them tell pollsters that they won’t vote for the Labour Party, with 47 per cent saying they would “seriously consider” emigrating if Corbyn wins. (Most wouldn’t, but even such ideation is troubling.)

Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, spiritual leader to the U.K.’s 62 Orthodox synagogues, issued an unprecedented pre-election public statement declaring Corbyn “unfit for high office,” and urging voters to understand that the “soul of the nation is at stake.” Mirvis said the Labour Party’s leadership must realize the problem isn’t procedural, but a failure of leadership. “A new poison — sanctioned from the top — has taken root in the Labour Party.” The Archbishop of Canterbury’s public support added considerable moral weight to the statement.

A new poison — sanctioned from the top — has taken root in the Labour Party

Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis
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Corbynistas rallied behind their leader with their standard “whataboutery” ploy: accusing Johnson of Islamophobia for his mockery of Muslim women in burkas (“they look like letterboxes”). But this feeble attempt at moral equivalence doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. A crude joke is no parallel to attendance at a graveside memorial for Black September terrorists who murdered 11 Israeli athletes in the 1972 Olympics, or Corbyn’s warm defence of firebrand Islamist hate preacher Raed Salah, whose deportation from Britain for promotion of blood libels Corbyn blamed on the “Zionist lobby.”

The above incidents featured in a “dossier of shame” submitted on Dec. 9 by the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM), a longtime Labour Party affiliate, to the Equality and Human rights Commission, which is currently investigating the Labour Party over its handling of allegations of anti-Semitism. The report provides nine examples of behaviour by Corbyn that the JLM claims acted as “signals” to party members that “anti-Semitic views are acceptable.”

Particularly revealing was Corbyn’s remark that British Zionists “don’t understand English irony despite having lived in the country for a long time” (i.e. Jews are not really English). The JLM report concludes, “The Labour Party is no longer a safe space for Jewish people or for those who stand up against anti-Semitism.”

People campaign against anti-Semitism outside the head office of the British Labour Party in London on April 8, 2018. Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images

Some of Britain’s cultural elites have taken public sides on this issue. One example deserves special attention. It shows that even intelligent Brits who are not themselves anti-Semitic — indeed, the opposite — can become inured to its stain over time, or convince themselves that Corbyn’s anti-Semitism is a venial rather than a mortal sin.

Last month Sir Richard Evans, a leading historian of Nazi Germany, and a Remainer, tweeted a statement of support “with a heavy heart” for the Labour Party in spite of the “cancer of anti-Semitism that has infected the Party.” He then reversed his decision in response to an open letter to him in the New Statesman by prominent lawyer Anthony Julius, with whom he had collaborated in defending author Deborah Lipstadt against libel charges by Holocaust denier David Irving in 1996.

Julius’s letter deserves widespread attention. He begins with a general denunciation of the Labour Party: “Let me remind you, on the subject of the Jews, the party has become cruel, malicious, stupid and dishonest. The cruelty has been persistent and extreme — death threats, shouted abuse at branch meetings, online trolling. The malice has been patent, incontinent and pervasive.”

On the subject of the Jews, the Labour party has become cruel, malicious, stupid and dishonest

Anthony Julius
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Then he explains why it is important not to become numbed to such behaviour: “Anti-Semitism is stupid. It makes people stupid. It is not a coincidence that the least accomplished leader of the Labour Party is also its only anti-Semitic one. If you live in a world of conspiracies, if you think the world is divided into the blamelessly good, the victims, and the unqualifiedly evil, the oppressors, then anti-Semitism is for you.” Further: “Anti-Semitism corrupts political discourse; it taints political life; its injustices towards Jews are precedent-establishing — people who start with the Jews, do not end with the Jews. Anti-Semitism even injures anti-Semites, because it degrades them.”

There is wisdom here, as might be expected from the author of Trials of the Diaspora: A history of anti-Semitism in England, Julius’s definitive 2010 chronicle of the phenomenon.

Corbyn has been a useful idiot for just about every revolutionary cause of human wreckage in the modern era. May the end of day on Dec. 12 see him headed for the dustbin of history where he belongs.

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