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Home News Labour’s minorities charter is for the many, not the Jew

Labour’s minorities charter is for the many, not the Jew

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ON December 1, the Jewish Chronicle https://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/equality-watchdog-expected-to-launch-formal-investigation-into-labour-1.484736 on a video that the Labour Party has produced supporting ‘minority groups’ which, ‘chillingly’ omitsany mention of Jewish communities.

The promotional film is just over a minute long and features a speech made by Dawn Butler, the Shadow Equalities Minister, in the course of which she claims that Labour will support people who wear a ‘a hijab, a turban, or a cross’.

But no mention anywhere of those who wear a – well, what do you call it? Maybe this was Ms Butler’s problem. It’s a bit old-fashioned to talk about a skull cap, and maybe the terms kippah or yarmulke are unfamiliar to the Equalities expert. 

It would only have taken her a quick Google to get the terminology sorted. The headgear worn by Jewish men is called a kippah (plural kippot) or a yarmulke. It is traditionally worn at all times (apart from bathing and sleeping) by Jewish men.

But there are different customs regarding this, and in some Reform communities, women also wear a version. But it is generally considered a sign of reverence for God. That shouldn’t have been too difficult to find out, but I have a sneaking suspicion that wasn’t the reason for the omission. That maybe it was entirely deliberate.

How ‘minority’ the groups are that are singled out in the speech I am not sure. Could ‘minority’ be serving as a definition of all those that Labour would like to vote for them?

I quote the categories:  A traveller; somebody who struggles to pay the rent; who wears a hijab, a turban or a cross; who is black, white, Asian; disabled; old; young; doesn’t have a trust fund; didn’t go to Oxbridge; is under 18; is aspirational; works; is a carer; feels they won’t live beyond 25.

Phew … all those oppressed minorities – just like white people, people in work, the old and young – are all worthy, of a future, equality, and dignity.

Yet no mention is made anywhere of those other oppressed minorities, or even majorities, such as taxpayers; Brexiteers; carnivores; rail commuters; climate change realists; or even parents who don’t want their primary school children being indoctrinated about homosexuality. I’m sure there are many more Ms Butler has forgotten about, quite apart from the Jewish communities of the UK.

They are especially significant at a time when anti-semitic abuse and violence is increasing throughout the EU.

Britons are not alone in their fears. A 2018 FRA report (the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights) found that 65 per cent of French citizens, and 43 per cent of Germans, consider anti-semitic incidents to be a very serious problem.

In recent years there have been deadly attacks on Jewish schools, institutions, supermarkets and places of worship. There have been killings, and hostage-taking. The EU spokesman Ioannis Dimitrakopoulos has targeted Right-wing populists for blame, but his report also identifies the role of ISIS terror groups.

I know from my own experience of walking to the English library in peaceful Zürich, where I pass a small Jewish primary school on the same street, that there is always an armed guard patrolling the area, with a machine gun.

No wonder Jews are leaving Europe. In France, Germany and Belgium, more than 40 per cent of Jews have seriously considered emigrating. In the UK a recent poll suggested that 47 per cent of British Jews would ‘seriously consider’ leaving the country should Corbyn win.

In spite of this, the EU has to date taken no decisive action.

And a quick trawl through Amazon marketplace sites threw up websites actually selling ‘Auschwitz-themed Christmas decorations’  – gift tags showing images of the rail tracks, before Amazon had the decency to take the websites down.

Shadow Minister Butler’s speech and video attracted immediate condemnation from Jewish organisations. Jonathan Goldstein, chair of the Jewish Leadership Council, has described the Labour ‘blind spot’ about Jews as extraordinary and chilling.

The problem is that if this is what they are like in opposition, imagine what they would be like in government. A spokesman from the Board of Deputies said: ‘This video goes to the heart of Labour’s problem with the Jewish community. It has been erased as a minority group worthy of their support’.                                                        .

 You can find the ‘diversity’ video that doesn’t mention the UK’s small Jewish population here.

Especially disturbing about it, even at just over a minute long, is the ranting and finally shouting rhetoric of the speaker and the impassioned applause and cheering of the crowd – that hint of other, more notorious, political rallies from the 20th century?

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Janice Davis
Janice Davis is a grandmother and former girls’ grammar school teacher

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