The Labour Party have accomplished the extraordinary. They have managed to unite rabbis across the entire spectrum of the Jewish faith. In a letter published in the Guardian, 68 rabbis expressed their collective horror at Labour’s despicable attempt to re-define anti-Semitism.
The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism has been endorsed by many European governments, including our own. But Labour’s National Executive Committee have refused to adopt the full IHRA definition. This foolish and arrogant act appears to have been motivated by their unhealthy obsession with Israel and comes across as a clumsy attempt to justify anti-Semitism within their ranks. Labour members are gravely mistaken if they think this allows them to substitute the words ‘Israeli’ or ‘Zionist’ for ‘Jews’ and still claim to be virtuous anti-racists. They have repeatedly shown themselves to be the very opposite.
That the NEC held a vote questioning the full IHRA definition epitomises how endemic anti-Semitism is in Labour. Since Jeremy Corbyn was elected as party leader nearly three years ago he has presided over a frightening escalation of anti-Semitism. The majority of British Jews are very worried about this infiltration of hatred within the highest echelons of UK politics.
The NEC’s hubris in thinking they know more than the Holocaust experts and scholars who drew up the IHRA definition is astounding. Not even condemnation from the Simon Wiesenthal Centre on this debacle has woken Labour up to the fact that they are now an institutionally racist party.
Instead they prefer to punish their Jews. Dame Margaret Hodge, a Jewish Labour peer, furiously accused Corbyn of being an anti-Semite and a racist. His response was a verbal shrug. Spurred on by Seumas Milne, the party’s executive director of strategy and communications, the Labour leadership rapidly condemned Hodge and are seeking to take disciplinary action which some see as ‘making an example of her’ – words which encapsulate Labour’s frightening obtuseness when it comes to British Jews.
Anti-Semitism is now the calling card of the Left. Corbyn and his cult have given a voice to conspiracy theorists, Islamists, the far Left, socialists and other assorted anti-Semites who like to parrot rhetoric on Jews that would not sound out of place at a Blackshirt rally.
One of the most virulent forms of anti-Semitism is anti-Zionism. Labour members have demonised Jews who support Israel, spread conspiracy theories and blood libels about the Jewish state and, in an astounding feat of cognitive dissonance, have convinced themselves that anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism. Jews are intertwined with Israel – it is a major cornerstone of our faith and a vital safety net in a world of accelerating anti-Semitism. No good can come by denying this truth. Labour’s attempts to dehumanise the Jewish people are appalling.
If Labour’s distortion of the IHRA definition and the disciplining of Hodge is not enough to show Jews they are unwelcome in Labour, then what will be? Their ability to effect change within the party has proven useless. Appeasement and complacency have not worked. By staying loyal to the party they are legitimising anti-Semitism.
Words of condemnation are redundant now. Lost in a quagmire of racism and anti-Semitism, the Labour leadership isn’t listening. Action is what is needed. The only way to combat anti-Semitism in Labour is not to vote for them and for all Jewish Labour MPs, and their colleagues who support them, to resign immediately.