JEREMY Corbyn isn’t an anti-Semite’, said a friend. And it’s true that the leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition doesn’t go round saying, ‘We hate Jews’. Nor does he call for anti-Jewish discrimination. Okay, he hates Israel, but so do lots of Jews.
Labour’s election manifesto in 1945 did not include a pledge to prolong the suffering of Holocaust survivors. There was no vote at party conference for a policy of further incarcerating the Jewish survivors of Hell in a camp in Cyprus, or of returning them to Germany, or of keeping them imprisoned for years on end. There was no electoral mandate to open fire on survivors who reached the shores of redemption in pre-state Israel. After six years of war, most of Britain wasn’t bothered about the Jews one way or the other. But Labour foreign secretary Ernest Bevin sure was.
In his autobiography, the Israeli diplomat Abba Eban recalls a Zionist delegation’s meeting with Bevin in 1947. ‘I had never seen a man so able to radiate hostility, not only with every word but with every movement of face and eyes,’ wrote Eban. ‘Not for one single moment did he show us any human respect, let alone diplomatic deference.’ According to the hard-Left Labour cabinet minister Richard Crossman, ‘the main points of Bevin’s discourse were . . . that the Jews had successfully organised a conspiracy against Britain and against him personally’.
This is the hostility that Labour radiates today, from leadership to grassroots. You could see it in Corbyn’s surly, sulking demeanour when reluctantly meeting Jewish leaders last year. You could see it in the aggression of party grandee John Prescott after a Jewish journalist asked, off the record, whether there was anything he could do about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. ‘Is there anything you can do about Israel and its behaviour?’ he ranted. ‘All of this is about Israel . . . dead children . . . settlers on someone else’s land.’ A Labour party member in Brighton recently advocated marching on a synagogue. In other words, a pogrom.
Anti-Jewish pogroms have happened here before. In 1911, more than 200 screaming miners and their families ransacked and looted 20 Jewish businesses in Tredegar, followed by similar disturbances in nearby towns including Caerphilly, Ebbw Vale and Bargoed. The riots lasted for nearly a week before Home Secretary Winston Churchill sent in the troops. It’s not hard to imagine how, under a Labour government, the police would be instructed to look the other way while a mob attacks Jews, this time on the pretext of Israel’s imagined transgressions.
It is one thing for Jews to reject Israel: the tradition of Jews forsaking their birthright goes back to the Bible. The tradition of non-Jews condemning the world’s only Jewish state springs from a different well. Corbyn has put forward 64 Early Day Motions about Israel in Parliament compared with 23 on labour relations and workers’ rights. Why would a committed socialist devote so much time to Israel, an interest that has limited impact on his constituents in Islington, and so little time to the people he is supposed to represent?
The answer is the Palestinians. In no other group does Corbyn see such a true reflection of himself. Fetishisation of terror. Perpetuation of victimhood. Love of conspiracy theories. Aversion to compromise. Demonisation of the Jews, be it in a mural, a history book or every classroom in Gaza.
Corbyn and his followers are forever claiming their ignorance as a get-out-of-jail free card. Whereas Bevin’s illiteracy can be attributed to an impoverished childhood, Corbyn defied every opportunity (much like the Palestinians), gaining two ‘E’ grades at A-level before failing to complete his degree in trade union studies at North London Poly. In Corbyn’s world, learning and knowledge are dismissed as the preserve of the elite, or the few. Or, one might say, the Jew.
‘F**k off!’ said Prescott to the Jewish Chronicle on being asked about his exchange with the aforementioned journalist. ‘Knee-capping might help change their minds,’ laughed shadow chancellor-to-be John McDonnell at councillors unwilling to meet Sinn Fein. The party once represented by humane, educated socialists, such as Crossman and Tony Crosland, Harold Wilson and Michael Foot, has regressed to the bully-boy mien of Ernest Bevin. And there it is stuck, on a prejudiced hostility that we Jews recognise all too well.
In the TV series Chernobyl, a party functionary refuses to admit there’s a problem after the nuclear reactor’s core has blown up. A scientist tries to persuade him. ‘I’m a nuclear physicist and you used to work in a shoe factory,’ she says. ‘And I am the one in power,’ the apparatchik smirks. ‘Workers of the world unite.’
Corbyn and his bully-boy ‘workers’ are surely the most terrifying threat to our way of life since the Nazis.